c.1460-1473. Oil on wood. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Lugano-Castagnola, Switzerland. Read Note.
Madonna of a Dry Tree. Since 1462 Petrus Christus and his wife were the members of the Brotherhood of Madonna of the Dry Tree, a religious society, which was engaged in charity and worshiped the immaculate conception of the Virgin. The society existed since 1396 and united aristocracy and clergy. This small painting was most probably a home altarpiece of a society member. This depiction was illustrating the verse by the Prophet Ezekiel (17:24)
“All the trees of the countryside will knowThese verses were interpreted in the medieval theology, as indication at barren St. Anna, who gave birth to St. Maria. The golden ‘A’ letters, which hang among the dry branches, symbolized 15 times Ave Maria. The work was fulfilled between 1460-1473.
that it is I, the Lord,
who bring low the tall tree
and raise the lowly tree high,
who shrived up the green tree
and make the shriveled tree put forth buds.
I, the Lord, have spoken; I shall do it.”
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary. Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999.